The Maple Leafs headed to the third period clinging to a one-goal lead. They were able to kill off an early penalty and were in desparate need of an insurance marker.
For the second time on the night, Phil Kessel was able to find Tyler Bozak in front of Carey Price and he roofed his second goal of the game for the game winner. It put the Leafs just four points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
In the Leafs' biggest game of the season to date, Phil Kessel delivered his best performance in Blue and White. The dynamic forward was dangerous all night and he was the reason the Leafs were able to pick up the two points in the win.
Kessel scored two first-period goals giving him six in the last five games. Thanks to his two assists, the four points that he had tied his career high and also are the most he's had since joining the Leafs.
It has been an extremely tough season for Brett Lebda but Thursday against Montreal that was all in the past. Lebda played 13:39 was good in his own end and made a great play to jump in the rush which led to his first goal of the season.
On the winning goal, he kept the puck in which resulted in Kessel finding Bozak in front. With the trade of Tomas Kaberle, Lebda will get more of a chance to play and help the Leafs' power-play unit.
Four points. That's what separates the Leafs from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to the stellar month of February that has seen them go 8-2-2, the Leafs have given themselves a shot.
This weekend starts a busy stretch for the Leafs as they play Pittsburgh Saturday and Atlanta Sunday. In March the Leafs will face Philadelphia twice, Boston twice, Buffalo twice, Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Detroit once. It will be 15 games in 31 days. The playoff drive is on!
Ron Wilson on getting to .500 and the playoff race:
"Yeah, psychologically it’s big to get to .500. Now we can’t be satisfied with that. It’s good to get within four points and now we have to keep on pushing and that’s what we’ve been trying to do."
Saturday, February 26 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 7 PM ET (CBC, AM640)
Game Notes: The Leafs return home to play the first of a back-to-back against the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins still sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. They have recently acquired James Neal and Alex Kovalev to try and make up some of the offence they lost with the injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.